Japan-North Korea Relations

May 2004

I. Japan-North Korea Relations

1. Japan's basic policy on North Korea

The Government of Japan will aim to normalize the relationship with North Korea in a manner that would contribute to the peace and stability of the Northeast Asian region, in close co-ordination with the United States of America and the Republic of Korea.

2. Japan-North Korea Summit

(1) On September 17, 2002, Prime Minister Koizumi visited North Korea and held a summit meeting with Kim Jong-Il, Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea, and signed the "Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration".

(2) Assessment

(i) The aim of this visit was, through a frank discussion between the two leaders, (a) to achieve a breakthrough of the situation towards a resolution of the various issues between the two countries, including the abduction issue, by eliciting the political will of Chairman Kim Jong-Il, and (b) to firmly urge North Korea to act as a responsible member of the international community to dispel international concern about security issues such as nuclear and missile problems and to resolve such issues through the promotion of dialogue with the United States, the Republic of Korea and other concerned countries in order to ease the tension on the Korean Peninsula.

(ii) The issue of abduction is a vital matter directly linked to the lives and safety of the Japanese people. At the meeting information was disclosed related to the incidents of suspected abductions and Prime Minister Koizumi protested strongly to Chairman Kim Jong-Il. Chairman Kim Jong-Il honestly admitted that these were the work of persons affiliated with North Korea in the past and offered his apologies, expressing his regret. He stated that he had already punished them and he would ensure that no such incidents occur again in the future.
(n.b.) The North Korean side acknowledged that of the eleven Japanese people in eight cases and two missing in Europe, four were alive, eight were dead and one was unconfirmed of entry into North Korea. One person, for whom request for investigation had not been made, was confirmed to be alive.
(iii) On covert operation ships, Chairman Kim Jong-Il stated that it was thought to be the work of certain elements of the military authorities and that he intended to look into the matter further and take appropriate measures to ensure that no such case ever occur again.

(iv) On security issues, Chairman Kim Jong-Il confirmed the importance of promoting dialogue among the countries concerned to resolve the issues. He also stated that he would obey international agreements (relevant to nuclear problem in Korean Peninsula) and that he would freeze missile launching without any time limit.

(v) Chairman Kim Jong-Il was also willing to hold dialogue with South Korea and the United States of America for easing the tension on the Korean peninsula.

(vi) The summit meeting did not resolve all of the issues outstanding between Japan and North Korea, and they continued to remain grave concerns. However, it was judged that there was a prospect that the resolution of pending issues would be advanced in a comprehensive manner. As such, Prime Minister Koizumi decided to resume the normalization talks in order to move further towards the resolution of the issues.

3. Japan - North Korea Normalization Talks

(1) The 12th Round of the Japan-North Korea Normalization Talks took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on October 29 and 30. (Attendees: Japan: Ambassador Katsunari Suzuki, Representative of Japan for Japan-North Korea Normalization Talks; North Korea: Ambassador Jong Thae Hwa)

(2) Outline

(i) The Japanese side placed the highest priority on the abduction issue and security issues including the nuclear problem, and most of the time in the meeting was spent discussing these issues. For the North Korean side, the core issues were normalization of relations itself and economic cooperation. At the same time, they expressed understanding for the necessity to resolve the pending issues in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration. Both sides shared the view that it was necessary for both sides to make efforts to resolve the pending issues in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration.

(ii) Concerning the families of the five abductees, the stance of the North Korean side remained unchanged and the specific return date for them was not decided, though the Japanese side reiterated its strong request for a positive response from the North Korean side. However, the North Korean side stated that it would like to resolve the abduction issue and that there was no need to worry about the safety of the families of the abductees.

(iii) Concerning security issues including nuclear problem, the Japanese side conveyed its concerns to the North Korean side in detail. In response, the North Korean side repeatedly explained that they observed the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration. Both sides agreed to launch Japan-North Korea security consultation in November in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration. (This did not materialize.)

4. Abduction issue

(1) At the Japan-North Korea summit meeting on September 17, 2002, Chairman Kim Jong-Il admitted abduction and offered his apologies, expressing his regret. He stated that he had already punished the concerned people and he would ensure that no such incidents occur again in the future. At the official-level meeting immediately before the summit meeting information was disclosed related to the incidents of suspected abductions.

(2) On the same day, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Korea released, in tandem with the announcement of notification of the Red Cross, a statement of the following effect. Namely, (i) North Korea was addressing the issue seriously; (ii) it was regrettable that such issue occurred in a period of abnormal Japan-North Korea relationship; (iii) such incidents would be prevented in the future; and (iv) North Korea would facilitate meetings with families and relatives of surviving abductees or Japanese government officials, if necessary, and that North Korea was prepared to take measures to enable their temporary or permanent return to Japan, if they wish to.

(3) Based on the above, the Investigation Team concerning the abduction cases dispatched by the Japanese government visited Pyongyang from September 28 to October 1, 2002, and investigated the abduction cases. In the investigation, all possible measures were taken, including interviews of the North Korean authority, meetings with surviving abductees and other related people and visits to cemeteries. As a result, it was concluded that the surviving five people can be identified as abductees themselves. Of those victims allegedly already dead, explanation was made by the North Korean side and efforts were made to collect relevant information, but it was concluded that more concrete information was required to confirm their death. The North Korean side also decided to continue further investigation on their part.

(4) On October 8, 2002, the investigation authority concluded that of the suspected abduction cases, fifteen people were abducted in ten cases. On October 15, five abductees returned to Japan. On October 25, the Government of Japan announced the extension of the length of their stay in Japan. Subsequently, on December 11, the law concerning the assistance to victims abducted by North Korea was enacted.

(5) From March 3 to 8, 2003, the family members of the abductees and their supporters visited the US to appeal to government officials and members of the Congress. From April 20 to 23, the family members and others visited Geneva to make a presentation to the UN Human Rights Commission's Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance.

(6) At the first Six-Party Talks held on August 27 to 29, Japan pointed out that the abduction issue must be resolved prior to the normalization of the relationship, and that the solution of the abduction issue was essential for a comprehensive solution of the issues between Japan and North Korea. During a bilateral discussion, the Japanese side strongly called for the return of the families of abduction victims and full investigation of the issue. Vice Foreign Minister of North Korea Kim Yong Il responded that the issues should be resolved one by one in line with the Pyongyang Declaration.

(7) On September 24, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi raised the abduction issue in her statement to the UN General Assembly for the first time.

(8) On November 12, Deputy Director-General of Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan Akitaka Saiki addressed the UN Human Rights Commission's Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance, outlining the additional material presented in October and a message from Ms Hitomi Soga, one of the abductees who returned to Japan. He strongly urged to promptly identify the whereabouts of the abductees whose information had not been confirmed.

(9) During a visit by Foreign Ministry officials to North Korea for consular purposes on January13 to 17, 2004, the Japanese officials requested for an early resolution of the abduction issue and for an intergovernmental negotiation to address it. The officials also proposed that they should hold talks with North Korean government officials on this matter during their stay in Pyongyang. The North Korean side stated that the purpose of the Japanese officials' visit was of a different nature, and maintained that the five abduction victims who had returned to Japan should come back to North Korea first. Specific negotiations were not held.

(10) From February 11 to 14, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Hitoshi Tanaka and Director-General of Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Mitoji Yabunaka met with Vice Foreign Minister of North Korea Kim Yong Il and First Deputy Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju in Pyongyang. On the abduction issue, the Japanese side pointed out, in particular, the importance of resolving the issue and strongly urged the unconditional return of all family members of the abductees and to disclose the information concerning the victims whose whereabouts have not been identified. The North Korean side reiterated their position that the five abduction victims who had returned to Japan should come back to North Korea first, and that the true intention of their children in North Korea must be ascertained. North Korea also argued that the matter of disclosing the information concerning the unconfirmed victims had already been settled. The Japanese side responded by stressing that the resolution of the abduction issue was absolutely indispensable for normalization of the relationship, and strongly urged North Korea to meet Japanese requests. Throughout the negotiation both sides stated their positions and could not yield tangible results. However, both sided acknowledged the need to resolve the various issues, including the abduction issue, in accordance with the Pyongyang Declaration, and agreed on continuing the process of intergovernmental consultation.

(11) At the Second Six-Party Talks held from February 25 to 28, the importance of resolving the abduction issue was strongly emphasized in the Japanese delegation's opening keynote speech. Furthermore, the US also referred to the importance and necessity of resolving the issue. A very thorough and frank exchange took place between Japan and North Korea, with Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan, during the course of the meeting (meeting of more than one hour on February 25). The Japanese side strongly pressed for a resolution to the abduction issue at an earliest date possible; in more specific terms, the unconditional return of the eight family members to Japan at an earliest date possible and a thorough investigation on the ten people whose whereabouts are unknown. Although no positive response was given from North Korea at this meeting, agreement was made to continue with the intergovernmental consultations.

(12) From May 4 to 5, an intergovernmental consultation between Japan and North Korea was held in Beijing. In the consultation Japan called on North Korea again for the early return of the eight family members and to identify the whereabouts of the abductees whose information had not been confirmed. Frank and earnest discussions for resolving the issue were held and both sides agreed on continuing the intergovernmental consultation.

5. Food aid to North Korea

(1) To date, the Government of Japan has implemented approximately 1.18 million ton of food aid to North Korea through the World Food Program (WFP) and so on.

(2) From September 18 to 22, 2001, Japan dispatched an observation team to ascertain the condition of distribution and use of rice offered as food aid. The team confirmed that rice was distributed according to their intended aims, in each observation site. Furthermore, the recipient North Korean organization and those at each observation site expressed their gratitude for Japan's aid.

(3) To assist the people hurt in a train explosion accident that occurred on April 22 in Ryongchon, North Korea, Japan decided on April 25 to extend emergency assistance of medical supplies equivalent to 100,000 dollars through U.N. organizations.

II. North Korea's nuclear issue

1. Background

(1) In October 1994, the US and North Korea signed the "Agreed Framework". Based on this agreement, the US would take measures to supply light-water reactors and substitute energy, while North Korea would freeze graphite-moderated reactors and nuclear-related facilities that existed in Yongbyon and other locations and to eventually dismantle them. Moreover North Korea would remain a party to the NPT and fully comply with the IAEA safeguard agreement prior to the completion of light-water reactors. Based on this agreement, in 1995, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) was established, charged with implementing the provision of two light-water reactors (1,000 MWe each) and heavy fuel oil (500,000 tons annually) as substitute energy.

(2) In the Japan-North Korea summit meeting held on September 17, 2002, and in the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration issued the same day, 'Both sides confirmed that, for an overall resolution of the nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula, they would comply with all related international agreements.' And 'Both sides also confirmed the necessity of resolving security problems including nuclear and missile issues by promoting dialogues among countries concerned.'

(3) Meanwhile, during the visit of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, Presidential Envoy, to North Korea from October 3 to 5, First Vice Minister Kang Sok-ju referred to its uranium enrichment program. On November 14, the Executive Board of KEDO in New York issued a clear message to North Korea through its statement, that the delivery of heavy fuel oil would be suspended beginning with the December shipment and that future shipments would depend on North Korea's concrete and credible actions to dismantle completely its highly-enriched uranium program.

(4) On December 12, North Korea announced termination of nuclear freeze and prompt resumption of the operation and construction of nuclear-related facilities. Subsequently, on December 21 and 22, North Korea unilaterally removed the seals and impeded functioning of surveillance equipment installed at the 5MWe graphite-moderated experimental reactor in Yongbyon, and on December 23 and 24, it further removed the seals and impeded functioning of surveillance equipment installed in the reprocessing plant. Furthermore, on December 31, North Korea expelled IAEA inspectors.

(5) On January 6, 2003, IAEA Board of Governors adopted by consensus the resolution concerning the "Implementation of the Safeguards Agreement with North Korea", calling on North Korea to quickly take concrete action to abolish in a verifiable manner its plans for nuclear development. On January 6 and 7, the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group (TCOG) met and delegates called upon North Korea to take prompt and verifiable action to completely dismantle its nuclear weapons program and reiterated their intention to pursue a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the issue.

(6) On January 10, North Korea declared its withdrawal from the NPT. On February 12, a resolution concerning the implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement with North Korea was adopted by the IAEA Board of Governors which includes the decision to report North Korea's non-compliance with its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement to the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Security Council of the UN received a letter from the Secretary-General of IAEA on this matter on February 20. On April 9, the matter was discussed in an informal meeting of the Security Council.

2. Chronology of recent developments

(1) US-China-ROK Three Party Talks (April 23-25, Beijing)

According to US officials, the three parties expressed their respective positions. The US reiterated the necessity for a complete and irreversible abolition of all nuclear development programs, and the need for Japan and South Korea to promptly participate in the talks. North Korea stated that they had reprocessed all of spent nuclear fuel rods and that they possessed nuclear weapons. They also presented a proposal related to resolution of issues such as nuclear and missiles problems.

(2) Diplomatic efforts

(i) Bilateral meetings
* US-ROK Summit Meeting (May 14, Washington D.C.)
* Japan-US Summit Meeting (May 22-23, Crawford, Texas)
* Japan-China Summit Meeting (May 31, St. Petersburg)
* Japan-ROK Summit Meeting (June 7, Tokyo)
* Japan-China informal Director-General level meeting (July 6, Beijing)
* ROK-China Summit Meeting (July 7, Beijing)
(ii) Multilateral meetings
* Evian G8 Summit (June 1-3, Evian)
* TCOG (June 12-13, Honolulu)
* ASEAN Post-Ministerial Meeting, etc. (June 17-19, Phnom Penh)
* Japan-ROK-US Informal Official-level Meeting on North Korea (July 2-3, Washington D.C.)
(iii) Others
* Executive Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of China Dai Bingguo, visits North Korea (July 12-15, Pyongyang)
* Executive Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of China Dai Bingguo, visits the US (July 17-18, Washington D.C.)

(3) North Korea accepts participation in Six-Party Talk (July 31, New York)

North Korea's 'Foreign Ministry' spokesperson announced in a statement that it made a new proposal on holding a Six-Party Talk concerning the nuclear issue between North Korea and the US.

(4) Co-ordination by the countries concerned

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Wang Yi visited North Korea (August 7-9); Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda visited China (August 9-11); China's Foreign Minister Li Xin visited Japan to hold talks with Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and to call on Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (August 10-13) and South Korea (August 13-15).

(5) Japan-ROK-US Informal Trilateral Consultation on North Korea (August 13, Washington D.C.)

Mitoji Yabunaka, Director-General of Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of South Korea Lee Soo-hyuck met in Washington D.C. to prepare for the Six-Party Talks.

(6) Six-Party Talk (August 27-29, Beijing)

Delegates from Japan, US, South Korea, China, Russia and North Korea participated. Japan presented its basic position and proposed that in addition to the nuclear issue, a number of issues between Japan and North Korea, including the abduction issue, should be resolved. The six parties agreed on resolving the issue peacefully and through dialogue, on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and on continuing the talks. The arrangements for the next round of talks were subsequently made through diplomatic channels.

(7) Japan-ROK-US Informal Trilateral Consultation (September 29-30, Tokyo)

Officials from the three countries followed up on the developments since the first Six-Party Talk and informally discussed how they would address the next round. The officials agreed on the continued importance of close coordination among the three countries and that they would continue consultations as necessary.

(8) ASEAN+3 Summit Meeting (October 7-8, Bali, Indonesia)

The Joint Declaration on the Promotion of Tripartite Cooperation among Japan, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Korea was issued on October 7, which stated that 'The three countries reaffirm their commitment to a peaceful solution of the nuclear issue facing the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, while addressing all the concerns of the parties and working together to maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula'. Japan also argued for a comprehensive resolution of the North Korean issue in the ASEAN+3 Summit Meeting and in bilateral meetings with the leaders of China, South Korea and others.

(9) Japan-US Summit Meeting (October 17, Tokyo)

The two leaders agreed on the importance of continuing the close cooperation between Japan and the United States in order to advance the six-party talks and to seek a peaceful solution on the nuclear issues of North Korea.

(10) APEC Ministerial and Leaders' Meetings (October 17-18, 20-21, Bangkok)

North Korea was on the agenda of both multilateral and bilateral meetings. Particularly on the issue of abduction, understanding and support for Japan's position was expressed by a number of APEC members. At the conclusion of the Leaders' Meeting on October 21, the Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra, who chaired the Meeting, read out 'the chairman's summary' stating that 'We seek a peaceful resolution through dialogue while addressing all the concerns of the parties, including the security concerns raised by North Korea'.

(11) Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China Wu Bangguo visits North Korea (October 29-31)

(12) Executive Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of China Dai Bingguo visits Japan (November 12-16)

Dai Bingguo mentioned that issues concerning North Korea needed to be solved peacefully, and that China intended to cooperate closely with Japan to this end. Views were exchanged concerning the next round of the Six-Party talks.

(13) U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly visits Japan (November 16-18)

Discussions were held concerning the denuclearization of North Korea and 'assurance of security'. Japan and US agreed on continuing close coordination for a substantial progress towards resolution at the next round of Six-Party Talk.

(14) Deputy Foreign Minister of North Korea Kim Yong Il visits China (November 22-31)

(15) Mitoji Yabunaka, Director-General of Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, consults South Korea and China (November 26-28, Seoul and Beijing)

Mitoji Yabunaka exchanged views with his counterparts in both Seoul and Beijing in preparing for the second Six-Party Talks, and reiterated Japan's position that a comprehensive resolution of the issues, including the abduction issue, is necessary.

(16) KEDO suspends project of providing light-water reactors to North Korea

The Executive Board of KEDO decided to suspend the lightwater reactor project in North Korea. The announcement was made on November 21.

(17) Japan-ROK-US Informal Trilateral Consultation (December 4, Washington D.C.)

(18) Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of China Wang Yi visits North Korea (December 25-26)

(19) Japan-ROK-China Director-General-level Meeting (December 29, Seoul)

(20) US experts and others visit North Korea

Upon returning from the a visit to the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon, North Korea, former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory reported the findings of the experts' group to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

(21) Japan-ROK-US Informal Trilateral Consultation (January 21-22)

(22) Announcement on the Second Six-Party Talks (February 3)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China announced that the Second Six-Party Talks would be held on February 25 in Beijing.

(23) Japan-ROK-US Informal Trilateral Consultation (February 23)

(24) The Second Six-Party Talks (February 25-28)

The following outcomes were obtained through the second round of the Six-Party Talks and a step forward was made.

(a) The six parties reaffirmed the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as their common goal.

(b) Understanding has deepened among most participants on the importance of the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (the so-called CVID) of all nuclear programs by North Korea.

(c) The parties shared the view to tackle the nuclear issue in the form of so-called "coordinated steps."

(d) The parties agreed to hold the third round of the Talks in Beijing by the end of June and to establish a working group for its preparation.

Japan pointed out the importance of a comprehensive resolution of the issues including the abduction issue. Among the six parties there were differences of positions concerning peaceful use of atomic energy, uranium enrichment program and others. A chairman's statement was issued.

(25) Launch of the Working Group and diplomatic efforts for the Third Six Party Talks

From May 11 to 15, the first working group meeting for the six-party talks concerning the North Korea's nuclear issue was held in Beijing. The six parties reaffirmed the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as their common goal, and that the six-party talk was a useful and effective process. On the proposal to "freeze" North Korea's nuclear program, all parties including North Korea agreed that the "freeze" should be placed as the first step toward the final goal of nuclear dismantlement. All parties agreed that the third Six-Party Talks would be convened by the end of June, as agreed at the second Six-Party Talks, and that the working group would meet again before the talks.


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